Running, Faith, and Endurance

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I finally went to the gym after about three weeks of not having set foot in the door. To ease myself into it, I went to a morning hip hop class (thanks spring break!), and the next day I decided to hit the treadmill. Hip hop is certainly a cardio workout, and it also works my leg muscles. I hadn’t been to class in a few weeks, but I knew this would be a good way to get back into the groove (pun intended). The next day, I made good on my promise to myself to get a short run in. I knew a run wouldn’t be easy after having slacked off for a few weeks, but I also didn’t think I would be impossible.

I started out slow and intended on doing only two miles. At half a mile I bumped my pace up just a tad, and at one and half miles, I wanted to stop. But I have this thing about stopping before reaching the goal I set for myself that day. As cliche as it sounds, if I say two miles, I want to make the two. If something is wrong, like a body part is hurting, I’ve learned to pay attention to those aches; otherwise, I try my best to push through.

I made it to two miles and then slowed to a walk. I was really surprised at how winded I was, but I shouldn’t have been because this isn’t A typical for me. When I take a timeout from running (like I had the previous three weeks), I have to build my endurance all over again. It doesn’t take too terribly long; a couple two or three miles runs usually jump start my endurance levels, but, nonetheless, I have to rebuild.

There’s a clear analogy that can be made here, comparing this situation to our faith. Taking a timeout from faith is likely not something any of us do voluntarily but rather circumstantially. We have a lot going on or our normal routine changes, and we take an accidental time out. You don’t forget about it all together, just like I didn’t throw my tennis shoes away during the three weeks I didn’t go to the gym nor did I hang my workout clothes up for good. But we may take a timeout from our faith in that we aren’t as consistent with reading the Bible or perhaps our prayers become more sporadic than they are intentional.

Re-opening the Bible and picking up where you left off is just as easy as opening the gym doors and hopping on a treadmill. But while your endurance on the treadmill may be defined by how far you run or how fast you go, your endurance of faith doesn’t have to do with how much you can read or how long you can pray. These practices – reading your Bible, praying, and the like – strengthen your endurance to navigate life. They keep us focused on God and help us press on each day. They remind us of our purpose, encourage us in our comings and goings, and support us in our walk. Being active in our faith makes living life easier.

When I finished this harder-than-it-should-have-been run, I thought back to the last time I had been on the treadmill. I was running two miles at a much faster pace and was pushing myself at a different level. With each run, my endurance levels go up, and I have to push myself harder because the old pace doesn’t challenge me as much anymore. Similarly, with every act of faith, our ability to persevere is strengthened, and we become firmer in our walk with Christ.

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

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